In the time it takes you to order a takeaway you could be eating delicious, home-cooked food, says Gordon Ramsay
Speed is a vital ingredient in restaurant kitchens: it is essential to get the food out quickly, or people just won’t come back. Although things are less pressurised at home, there is a lot to learn from professional chefs when it comes to getting great food on to the table quickly. Personally, I never cut corners when it comes to flavour, but there are many tricks that I’ve learnt over the years for saving time while cooking.
Every recipe here can be cooked in roughly thirty minutes (we all move at different speeds, so there is a bit of give and take here), and, in my opinion, each one punches above its weight. What I mean by this is that the quality and tastiness of the finished dishes far outweigh the amount of effort put into cooking them. This is quick and easy food without compromising flavour in any way.
I know that modern life is busy and tiring, and that it’s getting easier and easier to order a takeaway or have ready meals delivered to your home. But where’s the satisfaction and pride in opening the door to a man in leathers and a helmet? And where’s the pleasure and sense of achievement in pricking the cellophane of a ready meal before sticking it in the microwave?
Cooking from scratch is better for you, much less expensive and so much more satisfying than buying dinner in. And it needn’t take long to produce incredible food for yourself and your family. In fact, by the time your limp, sweaty takeaway has made it from the restaurant to your house, you could have made any of these knockout dishes and be tucking into properly great food.
Producing restaurant-quality meals in half an hour can be a challenge. The time constraint rules out many of the techniques that chefs rely on to bring depth of flavour and complexity to a dish – marinating, braising, roasting and slow-cooking, for example. But there are ways around this if you know how: choose the right ingredients, marry them with the right combination of spices and sauces, use the right cooking method and you can produce incredibly tasty meals that tick all the boxes.
Quick food doesn’t mean bland and one-dimensional, especially when you bring in an arsenal of aromatic spices and condiments from across the globe. In fact, being short of time forces you to be more creative in the kitchen, not less. When I’m at home, I don’t want to spend hours cooking, but I still want to eat well. Using bold flavours and some clever labour-saving cheats, I know I can produce top-quality food in under thirty minutes. If you follow the tips and techniques here, you too will become a faster and better cook with a bigger repertoire of no-nonsense dishes from around the world.
And by being well prepared, choosy about your ingredients and more efficient in the kitchen, you will be able to produce incredible food in no time at all. Shouldn’t you be cooking already?
From Gordon Ramsay Quick and Delicious, Hodder & Stoughton, £25. Photography Louise Hagger